The Washington Post
Andrew Jacksonby Robert V. Remini
The newest addition to Palgrave's Great Generals series focuses on Andrew Jackson's career including his time as a general in Tennessee and his rise up the Army ranks. Jackson's effective use of spies in war time and of martial law in peace time sparked a debate about the curtailing of civil liberties in the name of national security that continues to this day.
The newest addition to Palgrave's Great Generals series focuses on Andrew Jackson's career including his time as a general in Tennessee and his rise up the Army ranks. Jackson's effective use of spies in war time and of martial law in peace time sparked a debate about the curtailing of civil liberties in the name of national security that continues to this day. Most of all, Jackson was a great motivator who could, with a few carefully selected words and by his own brave example, turn around starved, deserting troops, convincing them to fight. With dramatic scenes of fierce battles and victories, Remini reveals here why Jackson's bold leadership as a general led to his election as President of the United States in 1828.
The Washington Post
Whether seen through the lens of his own time or of ours, Andrew Jackson remains a complex figure, one who has been both praised and cursed from his own era up to today. Remini, the prize-winning author of a multivolume biography of Jackson, proves a good choice for Palgrave's "Great Generals" study of Jackson from a military perspective. Remini maintains a birth-to-death narrative while keeping the focus on Jackson's fundamental existence as a soldier. The result is a fine introduction based on years of advanced knowledge on the subject, distilled by Remini into a very good read. His Jackson is a man with a will of steel and unwavering vision who was first and foremost a fighter and a military commander. The battles in which he fought left their influence on the United States, physically, morally, and politically. General Clark's foreword offers a concise preview that effectively connects the book with the other books in this series. For a good story, a clear understanding of a formative-and controversial-figure in American history, this volume is strongly recommended for high school, college, and public libaries. [See the Q&A with Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.), left.]
“Lucid and straightforward, it will no doubt prove useful to cadets and military buffs of all ages. . .Remini is a scrupulous and honest researcher.” New York Review of Books
“Remini, the prize-winning author of a multivolume biography of Jackson, proves a good choice for Palgrave's "Great Generals" study of Jackson from a military perspective. . . . [A] fine introduction based on years of advanced knowledge on the subject, distilled by Remini into a very good read. . . . General Clark's foreword offers a concise preview that effectively connects the book with the other books in this series. For a good story, a clear understanding of a formative--and controversial--figure in American history, this volume is strongly recommended.” Library Journal
“Robert Remini, the greatest Jackson scholar alive, offers a long-overdue reevaluation of Jackson's military career. Writing with customary brio, Remini brings to life Jackson's battles and wars, but goes further to enlarge Jackson's reputation as a strategist and tactician, and to suggest how those skills aided him in his later political career. Here is a fine addition to what is turning into an excellent series of military biographies.” Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, award-winning author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
“Andrew Jackson's preeminent biographer has written a compelling narrative of Jackson's remarkable military career, judiciously sown with telling anecdotes that bring him to life. Jackson's iron will and genius for leadership leap from the pages.” Joseph Wheelan, author of Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams's Extraordinary Post-Presidential Career
“This Andrew Jackson biography is as exciting as it is important, and shows how a very complex military was molded from frontier clay during America's formative years.” Donald A. Davis, bestselling author of Shooter and Kill Zone
“In prose that is characteristically clear and often stirring, America's foremost expert on Andrew Jackson and his time sheds new light on an as yet unexplored side of Old Hickory -- the relentless military man.” Alan Pell Crawford, author of Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson
“When it comes to Jackson . . . there are few who have such a masterly command of the sources as Mr. Remini [who] kept me up late at night reading and causing me to wonder why, with narrative history such as this, anyone bothers to read historical novels.” Roger D. McGrath, The Wall Street Journal
“Robert Remini, the dean of historians of Andrew Jackson, has done it again. In this vivid, insightful, and illuminating study of Jackson the general, Remini paints a revealing portrait of Jackson in the field. This is an essential book for anyone interested in one of the greatest and most controversial military leaders in American history. And on top of all that, it is a sprightly, entertaining read.” Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek
Andrew Jackson's preeminent biographer has written a compelling narrative of Jackson's remarkable military career, judiciously sown with telling anecdotes that bring him to life. Jackson's iron will and genius for leadership leap from the pages.
In prose that is characteristically clear and often stirring, America's foremost expert on Andrew Jackson and his time sheds new light on an as yet unexplored side of Old Hickory -- the relentless military man.
Read an Excerpt
By Robert V. Remini
Palgrave MacmillanCopyright © 2008 Robert V. Remini
All rights reserved.
The Indian Fighter
Andrew Jackson was born to a Scots-Irish family that came to this country from Castlereagh on the east coast of Northern Ireland in 1765 and settled in the Waxhaw district, which straddles an area between North and South Carolina. General Jackson always claimed that he was born in South Carolina, but he may have been mistaken, for many North Carolinians, even today, believe he was born in their state. The problem arose because his mother, Elizabeth Hutchison Jackson, visited two of her sisters after her husband died, one living in North Carolina, the other in South Carolina. Presumably she was visiting Jane Crawford, her sister in South Carolina, when on March 15, 1767, she gave birth to a son and named him after his late father, Andrew. We do know that she took up residence in Jane's house and remained there for several years, serving as housekeeper and nurse to her ailing sister. So it is most likely that General Jackson was indeed a South Carolinian by birth.
There were two older brothers in the family, Hugh, the eldest, and Robert. When they were old enough, they, along with Andrew, attended an academy operated by Dr. William Humphries. Because Elizabeth was a very pious Presbyterian, she hoped that her youngest son would become a minister. To attain this goal, Andrew later attended a school run by a distinguished Presbyterian minister James White Stephenson, but he never demonstrated any interest or talent for the church. Quite the contrary. Lacking a father to properly guide him, young Andrew developed habits of speech to convey his anger or disappointment that no God-fearing person would tolerate. And his education was most deficient. He did learn to read and write and do simple problems of arithmetic, but he never received an education that prepared him for the great office he later achieved.
It was therefore up to Elizabeth to assist the boy in his character development, and being a strong woman herself, she contributed a great deal to the man he became. According to tradition, she taught him not to steal, lie, or sue for slander or assault. The dueling ground was the place to resolve personal grievances, she lectured. "Sustain your manhood always.... Never wound the feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon your own feelings." Apparently these instructions had a great impact on General Jackson. After he defeated the British in New Orleans in January 1815, he reportedly said to a group of friends standing nearby: "Gentlemen, I wish she could have lived to see this day. There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and as brave as a lioness."
Elizabeth also taught Andrew to fear and hate Indians. According to a neighbor, Susan Alexander—Aunt Betty, as Elizabeth was known to family and friends --was a "fresh-looking, fair-haired, very conservative, old Irish lady, at dreadful enmity with the Indians." Alexander claimed in what was pure speculation that Elizabeth's eldest son, but not Hugh or Robert, was killed by the Indians. The family, Alexander remarked, "did lament about their eldest son and brother. They took great spells of mourning about him." Now Hugh, the eldest living child, died while fighting in the American Revolution, most probably of heat stroke, and Robert died shortly after his release from British captivity during that same war. And there is no evidence of any other son of the Jackson family. Still, Susan Alexander insisted that Elizabeth's fierce hatred of the Indians resulted from the killing of a kinsman.
"Mrs. Jackson and her son, Andrew, came to our house," Alexander continued; but not Hugh or Robert. "Nor do I recollect hearing them mention any other brother than the one that was killed. I only recollect about the death of that one brother, and I had it as a perfect belief, that he was killed by the Indians—for they often mourned him, and they were inveterate haters of the Indians, on account of their barbarities—both he and his mother.
"Oh," said Alexander, "we all suffered by those horrid Indians, and the remembrance of it has not gone out of me yet."
Although the local Indian tribe in the Waxhaw region was the Catawbas, who had long since learned to live peacefully with the white community there was always the danger of marauding tribes from the mountains to the west, such as the Cherokees, who would suddenly descend on frontiersmen and their families living in the Carolinas. Young children, like Andrew, learned early on about the danger the Indian represented and the need to protect themselves. No doubt Andrew picked up his hostile attitudes about Native Americans from his brothers, his uncles, and most probably his schoolmates and playmates. It was reported that he learned to make bows and arrows, just like the Indians, and became something of a marksman "in shooting snipes, partridges and wild turkeys" with his handmade weapons. Susan Alexander remembered him as a "lank, leaning-forward fellow," tall of his age with "a large forehead and big eyes." All in all, she said, he "was an independent boy in his manner ... [and] could not well be idle."
As he entered his teenage years, Andrew gained a reputation as an unruly, wild, and headstrong ruffian. He never forgot an affront or insult, and he never suffered them without responding in kind. He was a mischievous troublemaker, stubborn and quick to anger. Perhaps his undisciplined behavior could be chalked up to his youth or his lack of an appropriate role model. An early biographer described him as "a wild, frolicksome, willful, mischievous, daring, reckless boy." At the same time he demonstrated unswerving loyalty to his friends and could be "singularly tender" toward them.
The fighting streak in Andrew soon had a worthy target when the colonial leaders in Philadelphia signed a Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in July 1776 and took up arms to defend their newly declared freedom. In time, the British brought the war to South Carolina and Georgia by capturing Charleston and Savannah. Then, in the spring of 1780, approximately 300 mounted British soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, rode into the Waxhaws in a surprise attack and killed 113 locals and wounded another 150. Their assault was so savage that the raid was rightly called a massacre. They pillaged and burned homes and virtually destroyed the community.
The meetinghouse was converted into a hospital, and Elizabeth Jackson and two of her three young sons tended the wounded. The eldest, Hugh, had joined the regiment of William Richardson Davie and later died of "the fatigues of the day" at the battle of Stono Ferry. At the time, Andrew was 13.
Elizabeth encouraged Robert and Andrew to attend the drills and general muster of the local militia. The two boys quickly learned the commands and exercises of military service. Andrew, in particular, understood the value of the militia and how important it was to keep the men well trained. Discipline was essential, something he never forgot. But he also recognized the political and social values that accompanied membership in this military organization. Holding rank in the militia provided a high position—perhaps the highest—in American frontier society.
Following the Tarleton raid, the Waxhaws community kept pleading for protection, and it finally arrived in the person of Colonel Davie and a small fighting force intent on avenging the massacre. Andrew and Robert joined Davie's force and may have served as messengers or errand boys. As part of this fighting group, Andrew had the opportunity of observing the actions, attitude, and operation of the commanding officer.
An early biographer said that if General Andrew Jackson had any model for soldiering, that model was William Richardson Davie. The colonel cared for his men, looked after their needs, and regularly showed attention to their well-being. He hardly rested. He was constantly on the move, constantly vigilant and concerned and involved in every aspect of his command. In addition, he was bold in planning his military operations but extremely cautious in exercising them. Many of these same characteristics can be seen in Jackson's later struggles with the Indians, the British, and the Spanish.
The following winter, 1781, the enemy returned to the Waxhaws, and fierce fighting broke out again. It turned into a vicious civil war between those loyal to the crown and those supporting independence. "Men hunted each other like beasts of prey," wrote one biographer, "and the savages [Indians] were outdone in cruelties to the living and indignities to the dead." Andrew and his brother participated in many of the skirmishes between the two factions, and they were both taken prisoner when a Tory neighbor notified British dragoons that they were hiding in their uncle's home. The troops surrounded the house, then burst in and captured the two boys.
One of the British officers ordered Andrew to clean his boots and when the boy refused, the officer drew his sword and aimed it directly at the lad's head. Andrew threw up his left arm to ward off the blow and received a deep gash on his forehead and fingers, a lifetime reminder of British brutality.
Robert and Andrew, along with 20 other captives, were taken to a concentration camp in Camden, South Carolina, where they were "in-humanly" and "harshly" treated, reported one early biographer. Never would Andrew forget the experience. Thrown in with 250 other prisoners, the boys were robbed and abused. Lacking proper food, medicine, and beds, they soon contracted smallpox. Fortunately, Elizabeth arrived at the exact time that an exchange of prisoners was being arranged by Lord Rawdon and Captain Walker of the American militia. Faced with the desperation of an imploring mother, the officers agreed to include her children in the exchange. They were surrendered, along with several other Waxhaws neighbors, in return for a number of British soldiers.
Elizabeth could not believe what she saw: her two sons wasted by malnutrition and disease. She procured two horses and placed the dying Robert on one and rode the other herself. Andrew walked the 45 miles to their home, barefoot and without a jacket. Two days later, Robert died and Andrew was delirious. Fortunately, the attention and care of his mother, the help of a local doctor, and his own strong constitution brought Andrew through the crisis. He remained weak for months but finally recovered.
Once her son was out of danger, Elizabeth decided to go to Charleston to help nurse American prisoners of war held on prison ships in the harbor. Lord Cornwallis and his army had moved out of South Carolina and had arrived in Virginia, where he fortified Yorktown. So it seemed safe for her to travel the 160 miles to Charleston. Along with other nurses she reached her destination safely, but she later contracted cholera and died.
Alone at the age of 15, Andrew was an orphan and a veteran of the Revolutionary War. He had endured intense personal suffering, having lost his entire immediate family and having survived a bout with a deadly disease. For the next few years, he showed signs of developing into an angry, resentful, and depressed young man --- and one still weak from his past illness. He lived for a time in the home of his Uncle Thomas Crawford. Another boarder in the house, one Captain Galbraith, took offense on one occasion to something Andrew said or did and raised his hand to strike him. At that, Andrew lost control and showered the captain with angry curses. He swore that if the hand touched him, Galbraith was a dead man. And he never forgot the incident. "I had arrived at an age to know my rights," he said, "and although weak and feeble from disease, I had courage to defend them, and if he attempted anything of that kind I would have most certainly Sent him to the other world."
Andrew spent the next few years carousing in Charleston with several other rowdies, drinking, gambling, cockfighting, and mischief making in a wild, carefree spree that bordered on the manic. It is remarkable that he did not get into serious trouble. But the record shows no collision with the law. Finally, when he had frittered away what little money he had from an inheritance, his buddies deserted him and he returned to the Waxhaws. Having given his anger, grief, and resentment unbridled indulgence in Charleston, he finally came to his senses back home.
It was there that he realized he had no future in South Carolina and decided to move north to Salisbury in Rowan County, North Carolina, where he knew he could find employment in a lawyer's office and begin the study of the law. He was now 17 years of age. It was 1784, and he figured that the law would allow him to get ahead in the new nation that had achieved its independence and established a republican government. He packed up his belongings and left the Waxhaws. He never looked back.
He found employment in the law office of Spruce McCay, an eminent attorney, and for the next two years he ran errands, copied documents, cleaned the office, read law books, and attended legal proceedings of one kind or another. After a few years of this course of study he could presumably be admitted to the North Carolina bar. He found living quarters in town with a number of other law students, and without any plan or intention he became their leader. It was natural. Unfortunately, some of his activities offended other townspeople. One of them remembered him as "the most roaring, rollicking, game-cocking, horseracing, card-playing mischievous fellow that ever lived in Salisbury." But this wildness was unlike his manic behavior in Charleston. He was no longer assuaging his anger and resentment. He was simply having fun and letting off steam after a long day of tedious work in the law office.
Andrew was not much of a student of the law, but rather preferred the stables and horses. And apparently he was well liked by those who knew him best. There was something attractive about his manner and presence. He was charismatic. People were drawn to him. It was later reported that if Andrew Jackson joined a party of travelers and they were attacked by Indians, he would instinctively take command of the party and conduct the defensive actions. Even at the early age of 18, he possessed qualities of command that would later achieve great success on the battlefield.
An obvious reason for his commanding presence was his appearance. He stood six feet one inch tall and was extremely slender, never weighing more than 140 pounds. He carried himself with an air of self-confidence and strength. He had a shock of sandy-colored, bushy hair that stood as straight as he did, and it gave him another inch or two of height. He had very sharp features with a jutting jaw and a long straight nose. Most important of all, he had deep-blue eyes that instantly conveyed his pleasure or displeasure at what was going on around him and added strength to his appearance.
Andrew finally ended his apprenticeship at McCay's in 1786 and completed his study of law in the office of Colonel John Stokes, considered the best lawyer in North Carolina. He had apparently learned enough law to appear on September 26, 1787 before two judges of the Superior Court of Law and Equity of North Carolina and win the right to practice as an attorney in the several courts of pleas and quarter sessions within the state.
For the next six months he wandered around the state looking for a place to practice but had little luck. Then he heard that John McNairy, a fellow student at McCay's, had been elected by the North Carolina legislature to serve as the superior court judge for the western district of the state, the area that later became Tennessee, and given the authority to appoint the district's public prosecutor. McNairy offered the position to Jackson who readily accepted. He and Bennett Searcy, another McCay student who had been appointed clerk of the court, and three or four others agreed to form a party, rendezvous in Morgantown, and then head west for Tennessee. Two western settlements had already been formed in Tennessee, one around Knoxville and the other around the Cumberland River Valley centered in Nashville. These frontier communities were dangerous places, regularly attacked by marauding Indians, especially Cherokees. Their assaults were so numerous that settlers frequently had to flee their homes and take refuge in Kentucky. Militias from several communities would then band together and drive the Indians back to their tribal lands. The settlers would return to find burned-out houses and devastated fields. With determination they rebuilt as quickly as possible.
Jackson knew the dangers involved in heading into Tennessee, but they did not deter him. Still, for added safety, he, McNairy, and the others decided to join a party of 60 families, numbering about 100 persons, which had a sizable escort. On November 28, 1788, they all set off to the west, heading for Nashville, a distance of 183 miles. When they arrived at what was considered the most dangerous segment of their journey, they kept moving, never stopping to rest or make camp. For some 36 hours (or a night and two days), they did not halt for more than an hour. They knew that once they reached a particular place, they would be relatively safe from attack. Only then did they feel comfortable about resting and making camp.
Luckily they reached this point of safety without incident and they immediately lit fires and set up tents for the women and children to sleep. The men, except for those on guard duty, wrapped themselves in blankets and lay down on the ground. Soon complete silence enveloped the camp. All slept—all except Andrew Jackson, who sat on the ground with his back against a tree, smoking a corncob pipe. But soon even he began to doze off. As he did so, he heard the hooting of owls in the forest around him. Strange, owls in this country. The hooting became louder and closer. Then it suddenly hit him: These were no owls. He bolted awake and jumped to his feet, grabbed his gun, and shook the sleeping Bennett Searcy.
"Searcy," Jackson whispered, "raise your head and make no noise."
"What's the matter?" mumbled the dazed and semiconscious Searcy.
"The owls—listen," hissed Jackson. "There—there again. Isn't that a little too natural?"
"Do you think so?" asked the now fully awakened Searcy.
"I know it," said Jackson. "There are Indians all around us. I have heard them in every direction. They mean to attack before daybreak."
Most probably Jackson learned the ways in which the Indians signaled one another during his early years in the Waxhaws. White children were taught to beware of strange or unusual sounds emanating from the forest.
Excerpted from Andrew Jackson by Robert V. Remini. Copyright © 2008 Robert V. Remini. Excerpted by permission of Palgrave Macmillan.
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Meet the Author
Robert V. Remini won the National Book Award for the third volume of his definitive biography of Andrew Jackson and is the author of biographies of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster and others. He is professor of history emeritus and research professor of humanities emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Remini is the official historian at the House of Representatives. He lives in Wilmette, IL.
General Wesley K. Clark was NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is author of A Time to Lead, as well as the best selling books Waging Modern War and Winning Modern Wars.
Robert V. Remini is Professor Emeritus of History and the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Called the foremost Jacksonian scholar of our time by The New York Times, he is the recipient of a National Book Award. His books include Andrew Jackson and His Indian Wars.
General Wesley K. Clark served in the United States Army for thirty-four years and rose to the rank of four-star general as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. He is author of the best selling books Waging Modern War and Winning Modern Wars. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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PRESIDENTIAL REVIEW ANDREW JACKSON grows up in a large family. As he grows up his family starts to decrease as more and more family members die. Andrew is a brave and loving person, with a beautiful wife named Rachel Who did not live a long life because she had a heart condition and died from a heart attack. Andrew doesn¿t allow the loss of his wife and other family members to hold him down. He goes on with his life, in pursuit of becoming a lawyer. Then few months later he receives his license to practice law. In Jackson¿s old hickory days he is shot in the neck and shoulder and endures a lot of pain, but continues to fight for his people and himself. During this time the members of Congress meet to vote for president. Jackson has two advantages over the other voters and some candidates are not pleased. In spite of the odds Jackson becomes president of the United States. Read this book to find out more about Jackson¿s incredible life. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it .